News / USA

Obama, Congress Begin Contacts on Fiscal Challenge

President Barack Obama,Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia, walk from Marine One to board Air Force One at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago.President Barack Obama,Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia, walk from Marine One to board Air Force One at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago.
x
President Barack Obama,Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia, walk from Marine One to board Air Force One at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago.
President Barack Obama,Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia, walk from Marine One to board Air Force One at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago.
U.S. President Barack Obama is back in Washington after his decisive election win over Republican Mitt Romney.  The most pressing issue for the president and Congress is avoiding the so-called "fiscal cliff" at the beginning of the new year.

Obama already is taking steps to accomplish what he said in his speech in Chicago upon accepting a second term as president.

On his way to a strong Electoral College and narrow popular vote defeat of Mitt Romney,  Obama said Americans voted for "action, not politics as usual," and said he is ready to get to work with Congress.

"In the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together:  reducing our deficit; reforming our tax code; fixing our immigration system; freeing ourselves from foreign oil.  We've got more work to do," said President Obama.

President Obama telephoned Republican and Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, including Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

A White House statement said he reiterated his commitment to "finding bipartisan solutions to reducing the deficit in a balanced way, cutting taxes for middle class families and small businesses, and create jobs."

But compromises in Washington are difficult, and time is running short to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and mandatory spending cuts.  

On Wednesday, Boehner voiced willingness to compromise on the contentious issue of new revenue, saying this could be accomplished through tax reform.

Boehner signaled he is open to new negotiations on a broader agreement to solve the nation’s deficit and debt issues.

"What we can do is avert the cliff in a manner that serves as a down payment on and a catalyst for major solutions enacted in 2013 to begin to solve the problem," said Boehner.

To receive Republican support, Boehner said  Obama would have to agree to reduce spending and address the need for changes in huge entitlement programs.

On Wednesday, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, who would have to be part of any compromise, said the election sent an overriding message.

"This was really the message the American people sent from all over and that is, they're tired of these partisan gridlocks," said Reid.

Thomas Mann, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution, says the president may have some openings to break through gridlock, but the overall atmosphere of polarization in the country has not changed.

"Looking at the individual members of the respective coalitions of the parties and the intensity of the level of partisan voting, so we see no new coalitions emerging, no glimpse of anything on which you would try to build a consensus in Washington based on the behavior of the electorate," said Mann.

With what he sees as his election mandate,  Obama is expected to step up consultations with Boehner and other congressional leaders on the approaching fiscal cliff.

How Obama and the White House respond to Boehner's overtures will play out in coming days as negotiations on the fiscal cliff intensify.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More